While in Japan, you must spend a night in the serene atmosphere of a ryokan. Really. It’s an amazing Japanese experience. There are a lot of them spread across the country (even in central Tokyo) and they come in a vast array of price categories. The experience is more enjoyable if you go on the country-side though, like the region of Hakone close to Mount Fuji (and fairly close to Tokyo as well) for example.
From the moment you step in to the moment you leave the next day, you will experience the outstanding Japanese hospitality all the way throughout your stay (they really make you feel like you are the Emperor himself). This review is about the Takuminoyado Yoshimatsu ryokan, which can highly be recommended. The guesthouse is located very close to the village of Hakone itself, on the shore of Lake Ashi. From the train station (on the other side of the mountain) you will need to get a taxi there but the main attractions are around Lake Ashi anyway.
Dinner and breakfast are included and will be served in your room. In fact it’s more like a small apartment than a regular hotel room, with separate bedroom, dining room and living room. Thepickytraveller recommends to book a unit with garden view and its private onsen (hot spring bath). The guesthouse also features a bigger onsen that all guests can use but wether you are not comfortable being naked in public (no swimwear allowed, that’s the rule in Japan for onsen bathing) or just want to enjoy the benefits of hydrothermal water in your own privacy, that’s the best option. If you want to try the public onsen, keep in mind men and women don’t bathe together at the same time and there will be a flag indicating when you are allowed to go according to your gender.
After the welcome tea next to the reception (in a room reserved for that purpose only), you will be escorted to your unit and explained how everything works on the ryokan‘s premises. Dinner is served at a given time and a traditionally kimono-dressed woman will come to prepare the dining room with care half an hour before dinner time. So make sure to be on time if you go visiting the area between your arrival and dinner. The same kimono-dressed woman will then prepare your bedroom for the night and roll out futon mattresses on the tatami-covered floor. You will also be asked what time you want to have breakfast the next morning. Prepare to have the most amazing breakfast of your life…
There are also yukatas and traditional Japanese sandals at your disposal that you can wear anywhere in the pleasant property.
If you are lucky you will even get a glimpse of Mount Fuji before you head back to Tokyo. Just beautiful.